Tuesday, January 03, 2012

SANTORUM MAY HAVE BEEN FALSELY ACCUSED OF RACISM -- THOUGH APPARENTLY HE DOESN'T CARE
(updated)


You're going to say I'm naive, but I'm not at all certain that Rick Santorum said what CBS claims he said:

At a campaign stop in Sioux City, Iowa on Sunday, Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum singled out blacks as being recipients of assistance through federal benefit programs, telling a mostly-white audience he doesn't want to "make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money."

Answering a question about foreign influence on the U.S. economy, the former Pennsylvania senator went on to discuss the American entitlement system - which he argued is being used to politically exploit its beneficiaries.

"It just keeps expanding -- I was in Indianola a few months ago and I was talking to someone who works in the department of public welfare here, and she told me that the state of Iowa is going to get fined if they don't sign up more people under the Medicaid program," Santorum said. "They're just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That's what the bottom line is."

He added: "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."


Is that really what he said?

I'm not sure I hear "black people's lives." I hear "li-- people's lives." Or perhaps he starts saying both "people's" and "lives" at the same time and it comes out sounding like "pli--," which is close enough to "bla--."

Now, why would I believe this?

In large part because (as is made clear above) Santorum's just finished telling an Iowa audience -- a lily-white Iowa audience -- "They're just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote." I emphasize the word "you" because, as is clear from the clip, he emphasizes the word "you." He's saying that the satanic liberal welfare state is so wickedly all-consuming that it wants to enslave everyone.





This is a favorite right-wing talking point: that government is making us all dependent, and that that's destroying American civilization. Here's John Stossel's version:

Government is taking us a long way down the Road to Serfdom. That doesn't just mean that more of us must work for the government. It means that we are changing from independent, self-responsible people into a submissive flock. The welfare state kills the creative spirit.

F.A. Hayek, an Austrian economist living in Britain, wrote "The Road to Serfdom" in 1944 as a warning that central economic planning would extinguish freedom....

According to the Tax Foundation, 60 percent of the population now gets more in government benefits than it pays in taxes. What does it say about a society in which more than half the people live at the expense of the rest? Worse, the dependent class is growing. The 60 percent will soon be 70 percent....

Do we want a culture of takers or makers? ...


And this is regarded by right-wingers as a deliberate strategy of enslavement. Here's The American Spectator's Peter Ferrara:

Takers vs. Makers

... the Democrat party is throwing in the towel on economic growth and prosperity, because even Obama's people recognize they cannot credibly sell themselves as delivering on that. What they are going to sell in 2012 is taxes and redistribution from those that have more to buy the votes of those they think will sell their vote for government handouts. That marries perfectly Marxist philosophy with Chicago political machine politics.


You see this "makers and takers" formula all over Wingnuttia -- here's a much-quoted book titled Makers and Takers: How Wealth and Progress Are Made and How They Are Taken Away or Prevented; here's another, titled Makers and Takers: Why Conservatives Work Harder, Feel Happier, Have Closer Families, Take Fewer Drugs, Give More Generously, Value Honesty More, Are Less Materialistic and Envious, Whine Less ... and Even Hug Their Children More Than Liberals. Here's the "takers/makers" formula in Forbes. Here it is from Stephen Moore in The Wall Street Journal. Here it is even from Andrew Sullivan.

Santorum didn't use those words, but he's tapping into that notion. I think it comes off as even more evil and sinister to right-wingers because everyone seems potentially enslavable. It's Invasion of the Freedom Snatchers!

****

And yet, when questioned about it, Santorum didn't deny saying "black":

When asked about the comments in an interview with "CBS Evening News" anchor Scott Pelley, Santorum said he wasn't aware of the context of his remark, but mentioned that he had recently watched the movie "Waiting for Superman," which analyzes the American public education system through the stories of several students and their families. (The students and their families portrayed in the movie represent several races.)

"I've seen that quote, I haven't seen the context in which that was made," Santorum told Pelley, of the Sunday remarks. "Yesterday I talked for example about a movie called, um, what was it? 'Waiting for Superman,' which was about black children and so I don't know whether it was in response and I was talking about that."

Santorum stressed that he wants to make life better for Americans regardless of race.

"Let me just say that no matter what, I want to make every lives [sic] better - I don't want anybody - and if you look at what I've been saying, I've been pretty clear about my concern for dependency in this country and concern for people not being more dependent on our government, whatever their race or ethnicity is."


That's all the proof most of you will need. I'm still not sure he remembers what he said correctly -- and obviously it doesn't matter to him. But I still think -- like most modern right-wingers -- he's folded old-school racism into a batter that's mostly hatred of the Evil Liberal Monolith. And I think his audience hears it that way as well.

In any case, it's hard to be overtly racist these days -- racists nowadays use coded language and then believe their coded talk is sincere and literal. And even my version of what Santorum said carries with it the implication that government will reduce even you, upstanding white person, to the status of one of them.

****

UPDATE: Here's a clip of Santorum saying in Iowa yesterday, "You have Medicare driving the entire health care system in this country and it's crushing it." That strikes me as very consistent with the dependency/makers/takers narrative, and not with the "black people's lives." (And no, I don't have any expection that I'll persuade you by saying that.)

****

UPDATE: For what it's worth, Mediate's Tommy Christopher also doubts that Santorum said "black."

12 comments:

Danp said...

Sure sounds like "black people's lives" to me. I can't believe an experienced politician like Santorum would make such an obvious gaffe, and he does seem to try to stop himself, but I hear the "ack" there.

Jymn said...

Of course he says "black people". It's clear on the video.

c u n d gulag said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
c u n d gulag said...

Steve,
He said it.
He said what he said.
He did.

Maybe he should have left it at "I don't want to make black people's lives better."

That would have had the benefit of being 100% true, and an applause line for his lily-white audience.

c u n d gulag said...

Btw - I'm going to bitch about the same thing I bitch at LG&M:
Can we haz "Preview," and "Edit," and not just the little garbage can?

I am thankful, however, for the little garbage can.
At least that's something.
LG&M doesn't even have that!

Danp said...

I agree with your makers/takers argument. I just think he is using black people as his metaphor for takers.

This post is thought provoking, though. I wonder if emirs and dictators ever use the maker/taker argument, or does it only work within a capitalism framework.

4bd8a13e-28f5-11e1-a87a-000bcdca4d7a said...

Sorry. but having listened to the clip several times, it is unmistakable that Santorum said "black." As to why he brought it up seemingly out of context, well, that's no big mystery -- a bigot is constantly obsessing about the targets of his bigotry, and thus ANY context is appropriate for suddenly injecting references to blacks, gays, etc. Notice too that Santorum starts by saying "you," but after saying "black" switches to the pronoun "them." This is open and shut, really.

Steve M. said...

Do you hear the "ck" of "black"? No, you don't. It isn't there. Why not?

If he says (or starts to say) "black," why does he pronounce it "bly"?

And why does he emphasize "you"?

steve329 said...

I agree that it's unclear whether he said black or not. i can hear it both ways. but to your larger point, it comes back to race anyway...

basically, the equation is this: takers=liberals=blacks (or communists, or illegals, or whatever)

With the right we're always so deep in signifiers that it can get confusing. but ultimately it all comes down to hating the "other".

BH said...

If Santorum were smarter than I think he is, I'd float the notion that his apparently partial pronunciation of "black" was intentional - letting those who have ears hear, so to speak, whilst preserving some deniability. If unintentional, it's a nice little peek behind the Choirboy's curtain. He's just as much of a racist as Perry; he just ain't got the accent.

Batocchio said...

I think he started to say black, then even his dim brain realized that would sound bad... Alternatively, he meant to say something else, but he had a Freudian slip. Regardless, as you discuss, his atttitudes are pretty clear.

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